Review: The Paradise Syndrome Remastered

So here’s the pitch: The Enterprise is drawn to a lush, idyllic Class-M planet set in the path of an asteroid the size of Earth’s Moon.  Kirk, Spock and McCoy beam down to the planet and discover a primitive culture in place that closely resembles several Native American tribes from Earth. Additionally, vegetation on the planet (pine trees, orange groves, etc.) is identical to Earth’s, despite being a half a galaxy away- the odds of which, according to Spock, are "astronomical."  The party discovers an artfully designed obelisk set in the woods, evidence of an advanced species later revealed to have planted human life on the planet.  In the show’s opening minutes, we are presented with a tantalizing mystery and a major clue. Archeologically speaking, this planet may answer the question of how humans appeared on Earth.  On paper, this is one of Star Trek’s more appealing high-concepts.  Unfortunately, "The Paradise Syndrome" wanders about, indulging in silliness instead of exploring its more ambitious themes.

Picking up from the premise above, before Kirk can return to the ship to divert the asteroid from its collision course, he is separated from the landing party when he falls into a hidden door at the base of the obelisk. Inside, he is zapped by a memory-wiping ray-beam.  After Spock and McCoy conduct an unsuccessful search for their captain, Spock decides that diverting the asteroid is the more pressing matter and orders that the search for Kirk be postponed.  A scant few minutes after Spock and McCoy depart, a disoriented Kirk lumbers out of the obelisk’s base and meets an intergalactic Pocahontas, the lovely Miramanee.  Despite Kirk’s inability to finish a coherent sentence, Miramanee declares him a God (to which he doesn’t object).  She immediately takes Kirk back to the village and introduces him to the tribe.  But before pleasantries can be finished between Kirk and the locals, a small boy is brought into the hut, lifeless due to drowning.  The tribe’s medicine man, Salish, looks the boy over quickly and decides "He’s dead, Tonto."  The amnesiac Kirk proceeds to give the boy 23rd Century CPR (leg rubs included) and voila the boy comes back to life, thus cementing Kirk’s God-status (and pissing off Miramanee’s soon-to-be ex-boyfriend, Salish, in the process).

Miramanee — Space Pocahontas

Meanwhile, back on the Enterprise everybody is cranky.  McCoy is upset over leaving Kirk behind.  Spock is stubbornly ripping the ship apart by speeding at maximum warp towards the asteroid, and Scotty is complaining ad nauseam to his imaginary friends down in Engineering.  As Scotty predicts, Spock breaks most of the ships systems in his rash attempt to divert the asteroid.  This forces the Enterprise to slowly pace ahead of the rock on its path back to the planet– a trip taking several weeks.  Yes, it may not be apparent when viewing this episode, but "The Paradise Syndrome" takes place over the course of 50-plus days, qualifying it as the longest-spanning Original Series episode.

The Enterprise slowly keeps pace with the asteroid

All the while, on planet Navajo, "The Captain Formerly Known As Kirk" quickly establishes a new life for himself: he marries Miramanee, gets her pregnant, and assumes his role as "Kirok" (pronounced "key-rock"), God-among-men.  Contrasting Kirok’s bliss are several scenes on the Enterprise where everybody is upset to the point of overacting. Amidst the crackling/smoking chaos that is Engineering, Scotty confirms he is Scottish by bellowing: "My bairns!  My poor bairns!" (a line I gleefully repeated aloud to nobody in particular).  Meanwhile, McCoy predictably gets in a few racist digs on Spock, who’s skipping meals and sleep in order to study the obelisk’s symbols.  Spock is betting the farm that this ancient technology can be used to divert the asteroid in time.  He eventually deciphers the symbols as musical notes, by casually plucking at his Vulcan harp.

At the episode’s climax, the approaching asteroid sets off drastic climate changes, prompting the tribe to ask Kirok to do his God-thing and use the obelisk to save them all.  Kirok casually tells the nervous locals "Hey, it’s just wind!  Go to the caves, relax!"  Dissatisfied, the tribe turns violent, throwing stones at Kirok and Miramanee (and perhaps illustrating "Paradise Lost?").  Thankfully, the landing party beams down in time to scare off the angry mob.  And then comes an odd, yet vintage Star Trek moment: Spock performs a "Vulcan mind fusion" in order to heal his amnesiac commander, and concludes after a bit of overacting that Kirk is "an extremely dynamic individual."  Huh?  Back in his right mind, Kirk leads Spock into the obelisk (via a melodic, intergalactic coincidence) and they push the necessary buttons to send the asteroid off its collision course. Later, Kirk tends to Miramanee as she lay seductively in her hut (with one leg arched ever so slightly) dying from internal injuries. McCoy tries to save her, but 23rd Century medicine is powerless against 1960s television producers (who were probably reluctant to spare a pregnant Miramanee). Instead, the show ends with Kirk and Miramanee sharing a genuinely touching farewell and she dies declaring her eternal love for Kirk.

The Vulcan Mind Fusion, convenient plot device

Again, CBS-Digital delivers consistently good work.  The most significant improvement in this otherwise effects-light episode is the new version of the asteroid.  The original episode recycled shots of the Yonada life-boat/asteroid from the episode "For The World Is Hollow And I Have Touched The Sky."  Honestly, I had never made the connection between the two shows until reading comments by the astute readers of this site.  Well, rejoice in knowing that this killer asteroid is finally its own rock. Furthermore, the geek quotient was kicked up for me when CBS-D faithfully recreated my favorite shot from the original episode: where the camera pushes in on the asteroid, zooming past the Enterprise.  I had hoped that shot composition would survive "remastering" and it did, so major kudos to the FX team for keeping the faith.  And last but not least, the Enterprise fires her deflector, the one and only time we see this done on the Original Series, and by golly that’s a pretty, orange beam!

pretty orange beam

This episode deserves credit for its impressive production values, grand scope and intriguing premise.  Unfortunately, the show’s execution (script, acting) falls short of its potential.  The science-fiction angle has promise: the idea of an ancient alien race seeding humanoid life throughout the galaxy is a fascinating (and provocative) notion, but the mystery of "The Preservers" takes a backseat throughout the episode.  Also, dramatic themes about the stresses of deep space travel are raised but neglected. Perhaps there was not much self-analysis taking place in 1960s popular entertainment, but Kirk’s discontent is a subject worthy of serious exploration.  And what of his reaction to losing a wife and child?  In the end, this episode abandons its poignant and ambitious premise to pursue its more melodramatic side.  While it has its enjoyable moments, "The Paradise Syndrome" is frustrating to watch considering it could have been one of the signature stories of The Original Series.

Adam Cohen is the editor and mastermind of the sometimes funny The Jack Sack, a "24" (humor) site. This is his first contribution to Trek Movie Report.

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How is a Vulcan Mind Fusion different from a mind meld? And which one was it that Spock performed on McCoy at the end of TWOK?

While they were busy creating a backstory for “M class planet” on “Enterprise” (Vulcans called such worlds “Minshara class”), maybe they should have come up with a backstory for the mind meld that would give it an official “fal-tor-” name. Fal-tor-pan is the procedure for putting a Vulcan’s katra back in his head, and fal-tor-voh is the procedure for curing a neurological disease.

Pon farr is the Vulcan urge to mate, and jamie farr is the Vulcan urge to wear women’s clothing…

Good review.

Nice review. I still love this episode, although it’s tough to watch decades later and not feel a twinge of sympathy for anyone with ANY Native American blood watching white actors in greasy red makeup.

“Scotty is complaining ad nauseam to his imaginary friends down in Engineering”
All the extras were in buckskin for this one.

This episode shows up in “After They Were Famous” (or was it elsewhere in a previous thread) with home movies of Shatner’s friggin dog running around the obelisk.

Maybe one thing I like about this episode is that it DOESN’T take place in a day or two. Trek works well on a grand scale, with narrow focus on characters. Hint hint, JJ.

Wow, how many more cliches could you have fit into that review?

“pine trees, orange groves, etc.”
Musta missed the oranges… damn Miramanee’s legs are distracting.
Actually, I thought The Preservativesers had teleported the fishin’ hole from Mayberry to this planet, along with some sets from Bonanza.

How many more could you have fit into the episode? ;)

Wasn’t the village elder the only real native american in the episode? Obviously the rest weren’t but I think he was.

While the new effects are generally good, one significant error was made:

During the episode the Indians urge Kirk to rouse the “blue beam” from the temple. However, when the beam is ulimately fired, it is very orange. I believe this is a change from the original show which the correct color.

I wonder if this could be fixed before the show goes to DVD?

“All the while, on planet Navajo, “The Captain Formerly Known As Kirk” quickly establishes a new life for himself: he marries Miramanee, gets her pregnant, and assumes his role as “Kirok” (pronounced “key-rock”), God-among-men. Contrasting Kirok’s bliss are several scenes on the Enterprise where everybody is upset to the point of overacting.”

LOL. Great stuff. Good review, dude. :)

“Later, Kirk tends to Miramanee as she lay seductively in her hut (with one leg arched ever so slightly) dying from internal injuries. McCoy tries to save her, but 23rd Century medicine is powerless against 1960s television producers (who were probably reluctant to spare a pregnant Miramanee). ”

What if?…..Totally off the wall thought and one I’m sure was not on the minds of the producers at the time. Perhaps McCoy lied to Kirk about not being able to save Miramanee. The Prime Directive would be in play here. And it spares Kirk from knowing he fathered a child that he has to leave behind. Just a thought.

Nice review!

11 – Interesting idea. Now THAT could be a good jumping off point for a fan fiction book.
Someone earlier asked why Spock didn’ t just leave a search party behind while they went off for a few hours to rock the rock. That could also be over concerns of contaminating the locals.

Remember folks, these were ALIEN American Indians. Maybe they look more like Europeans in greasepaint than their Earth counterparts.


Scott B. out.

“That Vulcan won’t be happy until these engines are a pile a lead!”

No, they weren’t ALIENS. They were taken from Earth and put on the planet. Why is this so hard for people to understand?

Hey everybody,

Thanks for your comments, I’m glad you enjoyed my review. This site has had some very tough acts to follow (oops, another cliche!), so I put a lot of effort into making sure it was a well-rounded (and even-handed) review. Personally, I love all TOS episodes (some more than others) so there really is no objective way to measure these shows in my mind. This particular episode falls in the middle of the spectrum for me- however, if it didn’t indulge in being so campy, it could have had been one of the “greats.” Still, the end scene with Kirk and Miramanee really does save the show. Without that farewell, I think the episode would have been a lot worse off. I guess killing Miramanee made sense afterall.


The lake featured in this episode is the Franklin Reservoir above Los Angeles. It has been featured in hundreds of westerns and police shows, but is most famous as the fishin’ hole in the opening credits for The Andy Griffith Show.

thank you Memory Alpha

Can I review the Empath???????

I thought it was pretty obvious that the producers would have insisted on killing of preggers Miramanee. Having a kirkling wandering around Paradise is not the kind of loose end that fit the TV formula comfortably in the 1960s.

19- Yeah, and Kirk already had one. David.

According to the Wikipedia page on this episode, an earlier draft had her survive the attack, with the pregancy intact. If Star Trek were being produced today (non-Berman production to be specific) the choice to keep Miramanee alive might have been allowed. Modern TV shows like to have these lingering story threads (obviously Lost and 24 do this, but other shows to a lesser extent as well) to be picked up later on. Back in the 1960s, the norm was to make one-hour self-contained movies (save for examples like The Fugitive and The Prisoner). Miramanee could have been an interesting character to bring back at some later point, I think aside from Edith Keeler, this was one of the few girl Kirk genuinely loved, even if he lied to her about being a God (by playing along and never objecting to her worship- but could you blame him?).

It’s painfully obvious how the producers manipulated popular sentiment regarding Miramanee’s death. Her pregnancy (less than 58 days, but she knows for sure…) is there strictly to build our tear quotient for her death. McCoy can’t save her???? She’s dying from the stoning, which left no mark on her face… or any ill-effects on Kirok whatsoever, except for a brief fainting spell.
Having said all that… it worked. I still get teary-eyed.

#21 —
” …even if he lied to her about being a God (by playing along and never objecting to her worship- but could you blame him?)”

To be fair, Kirk didn’t remember that he *wasn’t* a god.

Besides, it is Shatner, so that’s as close to a walking lord of Olympus as we have.

Glad you chose to avoid the “blue flame” and the dual-firing “phasers one through four” controversies.

#21: “If Star Trek were being produced today (non-Berman production to be specific) the choice to keep Miramanee alive might have been allowed. Modern TV shows like to have these lingering story threads (obviously Lost and 24 do this, but other shows to a lesser extent as well) to be picked up later on. Back in the 1960s, the norm was to make one-hour self-contained movies”

Well, there were plenty of dangling threads concerning family in Berman-produced Trek. The years that Worf’s son was sent off to live with the Roshenkos come to mind for starts.

Yet, look at the furor kicked up on-line this past Summer when Superman turned out to have left Earth for five years *leaving behind a kid he didn’t know he had.* Conventional folk can still be pretty intolerant of what they interpret as irresponsible behavior on the part of role models, and certainly in 1969 it was not possible for Hero Kirk to ignore or neglect the existence of an infant son in weeks to follow – nor, in 1969, could the baby have been worked into the format of the show.

I like this episode. It is entertaining. It doesn’t concern me if it makes a lot of sense or not. Some episodes are like that. And then there is the “Alternative Factor.”

#11-Interesting idea but there is only one problem. Kirk knew about the baby in the show. Yeah, they cut that part out due to syndication editing, but unedited (on dvd’s), she tells him.

No wander they stoned Kirk… He was supposed to make BLUE FLAME appear from the temple. Why was it RED?

In my household, we always referred to the hero’s-girlfriend-dying-at-the-end-of-the-episode as “Bonanza-itis” or “Little Joe’s Syndrome”, as anybody who fell in love with a male lead on a TV show in the 60s either died or “had to go away”, and it was particularly true of the men of the Ponderosa – a 50 year old man and his three 48 year old sons.

CBS-D needs to further clen up two things.

1. The obelisk beam needs to be BLUE, not orange.

2. The fly on Kirk’s face, when Miramanne tells Kirok about being prego, needs to be removed. It’s landing on the shat’s temple completely took me out of the story.

Otherwise, great job guys!

Entertaining review. I always liked this episode. An interesting side note is that the TNG episode “The Chase” was going to feature the Preserves but the Killer Bees choked.


The Electoral College?

“Killer Bees” would have to be singular in reference to “The Chase.” Braga was not a producer who approved or disapproved scripts at that time.

Bad review about a great episode.

There was nothing “silly” about this moving and touching episode but Adam Cohen’s review.

Jeers to the needless redo of superior fx from the original as well

great episode, lousy revew and “redo” imo, they really muffed up this one after two great remastered episodes, they took an ..”i dont care” feel to this one.

So it is “Thumbs way down”” all around…for one of my very favourite episodes and as a native american I take no offense from The Paradise Syndrome…only from the clumsy review and botched fx on this.

Thank you for allowing me to have an opinion…I truly hope next weeks episode is better remastered and better reviewed.

Um, they were supposed to be actual Amerinds, not alien Indians. They were transplanted from Earth so they were human.

I don’t understand the flippant review remark questioning the mind-meld as a way to retore Kirk’s memories. They were there all along, Kirk just couldn’t access them. Spock helped him do it, reclaiming his identity, while Kirk fought him to maintain his Kirok life. Spock’s comment about being a dynamic individual meant that Spock really had to fight his strong will to re-instate his memories and real identity.

No reason for a “huh?” there to me.

#34 – right on brother

With regards to the “mind fusion” the only “huh” was the format, discarding the mind meld “our thoughts are merging etc” lines and with the addition of some majorly funky music.

Sometimes I wonder if Trek had gotten a five year run, how funky would it have been by ’72? Those sideburns would have crept down even more, the Shat’s gravity well ever deeper, Uhura would have debuted her ‘fro, and the music, oh the music. We can dream!

#34, An explanation of the “Huh?” comment:

I found Spock’s comment that Kirk is “an extremely dynamic individual” funny given the circumstances. It was a humorous moment, and intended as such, but it was an odd joke at an odd time. I wasn’t commenting on the mechanics of the Mind Fusion, I leave all that Vulcan mysticism to my willing suspension of disbelief. To enjoy Star Trek, you *never* dare question Vulcan mind tricks (see the end of Star Trek II as a major example).

BEEP-BEEP-BEEP – in the original cut, the Enterprise is flying in reverse for 59 days! I expected them to fix that for the remastered version… but they STILL have a CGI Enterprise flying backward in front of the asteroid for 59 days! BEEP-BEEP-BEEP…

34: “I don’t understand the flippant review remark questioning the mind-meld as a way to retore Kirk’s memories.”

Vulcan telepathy is the Swiss Army knife of “Star Trek” – need to interrogate a prisoner or plant an idea in a guard’s head? Need to communicate with an inhuman alien, turn bullets into ghosts or restore your buddy’s memory? Need to bring someone back from the dead? Vulcan telepathy is your answer to questions that you didn’t know you had until you wrote your way into that cul-de-sac at the end of Act Three. :lol:

#2: “Jamie Farr”… ha ha ha!!!

Very funny! LOL

The “star trek” physics of this episode ask for more than the usual suspension of disbelief for me.

To get to the asteroid, Spock has the ship travel at warp 9 long enough to get Scotty more exasperated than ever. Then, after all the dramatics, full impulse power is only good enough to match the speed of the asteroid. Travelling at that speed, it takes 2 months to return to the planet.

If full impulse power = lightspeed, then the asteroid was about 60 light days away from the planet when the Enterprise reached it. That is about 1/6 or 0.17 light years. Why should they not have covered that distance in a few milliseconds at Warp 9?

That asteroid was moving mighty fast.

Two months should have been long enough for another starship to save them (maybe they were too embarrassed to tell Starfleet?)

What was that nonsense with Spock and McCoy and the rocks? “In the time it has taken me to explain this, the asteroid has moved from here [look at rock] to here [look at rock again]” ???

I noticed Scotty remarked to Spock that “the relays will reject the overload” when Spock wanted full power after their Warp 9 chase. Spock calmly tells him to bypass the relays. I always picture Scotty sighing loudly, then sauntering over to the Enterprise fusebox and putting a penny or paperclip across one of the circuits. Well, at least they did not yet start solving these kind of problems by “reversing tachyon field polarity (etc.)”

Yeah, I am missing the point of it all.

41…. (reminds me of Ben-Hur when I typed that…)

Asking for solid scientific logic of season three is a vain hope. The most one can hope for from that season is that it’s not too bad to watch. This one was one of the “not bad” ones.

But, I’d rather watch a third season TOS than a lot of other new SF tv shows.

Nice re-mastered shots… But please FIX the BLUE beam that looks RED and the REVERSE course of the big E.

I got the ship facing the asteroid while attempting to deflect or destroy it… but why face it for 2 months flying BACKWARDS? How do those impulse engines on the BACK of the ship work.. on “suction force?”

They should have corrected that.

That was an interesting point about not really exploring Kirk’s loss. I wonder if there would have been more seasons if they would have developed a larger story arc.

Check it out, the Star Trek show “Prime Directive”, the comedy where Warp 11 got its start!

Adam Cohen,

I guess you thought you were being clever when you threw in the stereotypical racial slanders at Native Americans in your review. Good job, right on point as usual. Speaking of right on point why don’t you just reivew the episode and keep your attempts at humor at home. I guess that you really aren’t a fan of TOS or ST in general because the comments “He’s dead, Tonto” or “All the while, on planet Navajo” surely doesn’t represent the true spirit of Star Trek and it’s acceptance of everyone.

Oh sure you can point out that Lincoln said slander to Uhura and that she & Kirk informed him that they don’t fear words in the 23rd century. However you never did hear at any time in either the shows or movies out right slander for a laugh, just a lesson in tolerance. Tolerance.

If we aren’t allowing people to swear on this website then I would certainly hope that racial prejudice is not to be tolerated or allowed either. Denial is the first phase Adam, now just deny what you wrote and that you didn’t mean any harm, I can hear it all now… blah, blah, blah. “That’s not what I meant I was just trying to play on the fact that they were dressed like Native Americans.” Next time Adam you should just stick to the facts. Oh, and in case you want to defend your Tonto remark by saying it was a play on another tv show well don’t. This is Star Trek not the Lone Ranger and we are better than that. I know you are. Those comments were too close to home, unappreciated, and unneccessary for what you were supposed to do…review the episode.

Look Adam stationed here in Iraq I don’t have a lot to look forward to, but seeing my race being slandered on THE website of my favorite TV show is appalling. I give the people here who are trying to take me down more respect everyday than those little phrases you made did for me.

So much for 21st century American tolerance huh?

I’m glad at least one of you guys pointed out that the line in which Miramanee tells Kirok she’s pregnant was excised. I found that inexcusable. Kirk’s grief over the death of his wife at the end was well played and believable even if you didn’t know she was carrying (as you wouldn’t if this was the first time you were seeing the episode), but the fact that she was expecting added an extra facet to Kirk’s grief and sort of reinforced the idea that he had finally achieved real happiness with the Indians — in other words, he was grieving over the loss of a full life and a child, not just the loss of a hot wife.

I noticed something at the end that I noticed when I first saw this episode years ago. In the final long shot of Kirk bending over Miramanee, the expression on his face, his body language (letting his head fall), and the music, not to mention the fact that the credits started to roll, indicated to me that she had died. Yet the final close-up is apparently a reuse of an earlier shot, because I’m sure I saw her head move and she’s still smiling.

For all the complaints about the 3rd season, if you think about it at least they were trying to be original in each episode. All of these “bad” shows could have been fixed with a little careful editting and serious dialog. A race of preserved humans, an asteroid ship, and city in the clouds, and suicidal cult, and even a living brain controlling the workings of a city. These are ALL solid concepts.

As opposed, say, blowing up the enemy of the week set to Jaws music with antimatter like nearly EVERY EPISODE of the second season. BOOOOOM!!!!

Yeah, take a look at the original (60 second) preview: at the official site (board won’t allow a link) , it shows the obelisk’s original beam. The Blue Fire was correct in 68 – freshly botched for 2007. The line was in the *syndication cut* fer cryin out loud, how could you miss it? Since the obelisk is unique to trek there is no consistency reason to change it. Put it back to blue! The trailer also has the line “I bear your child” for those unfamiliar with the full cut.

I dig this episode for pushing against the formula wall, even if it bungies back at the end. I’m old enough to remember when all TV indians were of the Tonto variety, so I don’t single out TPS for that. It’s the only classic trek to last over a week, let alone 2 months. They could’ve made a 2 parter easy. Have a few of those extras change out of buckskin and have more forging aboard the E, lol.

I sort of wish the E deflector beam had been a bit more of a profile, or at least have a “special” for the deflector dish. The original deflector is a design element unique to 60’s trek, as all later designs have the deflectors integral to the hull rather than sporting an external dish. I would have love to have seen the beam come from the dish element, but the camera angle hides it behind the hull. Beautiful shot, just what might have been.

#46: A note on race: I’m certain that what the author and others are being jocular about was the ridiculously low standards of representation of Native American cultures on television in the late ’60s and prior.

These days, taking cheap costumes off the studio rack and throwing white actors with makeup in front of the camera doesn’t cut it, and all humor was directed at the production, not the people themselves or their culture.

I can fully understand your sensitivity; I hope you can see that we are affirming our higher standards by distancing ourselves from lower ones.
Having said that, Trek was incredibly progressive for its time, and I’m also convinced that the producers meant no disrespect: they were ahead of their time, just not 40 years ahead.

Thank you for you service and I hope you’re able to return home soon, safely.